Saturday, March 28, 2020

1981 Topps Willie Hernandez

The front: A disgruntled-looking Hernandez glares past the camera.

The back: Hernandez compiled that 0.00 ERA against the Braves in exactly one-third of an inning, making this one of the funnier card backs in the set.

The player: Willie Hernandez was an unremarkable middle reliever for the Phillies from 1977 to 1983, where he was traded to the Phillies mid-season. Right before the 1984 season, the Phillies traded Hernandez to the Tigers. With the Tigers, Hernandez started using two new pitches, the screwball and the cut fastball, that he had learned the previous year. They vaulted him to superstardom, as he was the AL Cy Young and MVP winner with his 9-3, 32 save, 1.92 season, helping the Tigers win the World Series (he had three more saves in the postseason). It didn’t take the American League too long to figure Hernandez out though, and by 1987 he had lost his job as Tigers closer. Overall, in 744 games he went 70-63 with 147 saves and a 3.38 ERA.

The man: Toward the end of his career Hernandez insisted that he be called Guillermo, not Willie. Since his playing career ended he seems to have used both his given name and his nickname. He has been involved in a variety of business and coaching ventures.

My collection: I have 44 of his cards, from 1978 to 1990. I would be interested in trading for 1984 Fleer Update #51.

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